Zombieland (2009) Review

Zombieland (2009) Review
Zombieland (2009) Review 1
Zombieland (2009)
Editors Choice

For a long time, Max Brook’s Zombie Survival Guide was kept in the humor section of the bookstore. I read it, it’s not funny. That’s not to say it’s not a good book, but it’s not written to be funny, nor should it be taken as such. No such problem, however, with Zombieland, an explicit zombie comedy that sums up the immortal words of R.E.M.: “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Normally, the apocalypse is a reminder of the loss of something, but in the case of Zombieland, it’s an opportunity to gain something: new friends, new perspectives, and new talents.

In lesser hands, Zombieland would have come off dumb as an ox. Whoever said, “Dying is easy… Comedy is hard,” would also surely concede that, on film, killing is easy, but horror is hard. Combing the two is perilous at best, and really only one movie comes to mind as a successful blending of both horror and comedy: Shaun of the Dead. Interestingly, that film was also zombie-related so it begs the question: are zombies inherently comical? Well, there are certainly always comedic opportunities so far as zombies are concerned, but the mix of mirth and menace is achieved only in small doses and sometimes it seems it’s as if by accident.

“Combing the two is perilous at best, and really only one movie comes to mind as a successful blending of both horror and comedy: Shaun of the Dead.”

There’s nothing accidental about Zombieland though, scripted and acted to perfection, it moves along briskly and hilariously by taking all those zombie conventions and mining them for maximum laughs. In “Zombieland” (AKA: the post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested America) one survives by following the rules, and one of those rules is no names; it only helps to facility attachments that you may not be able to afford.

Zombieland 2009 Review 23040504 1

Nevertheless, introverted young college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and extroverted zombie hunter Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) form an alliance and head east. Later, they meet Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), a pair of grifter sisters who end up growing on Columbus and Tallahassee, even though they mug them twice.

“There’s nothing accidental about Zombieland…”

It’s a crazy, mismatched road-movie comedy in a zombie world, and it’s led by four great actors, especially Woody Harrelson, who takes on the role of Tallahassee with the glee of Slim Pickens riding an atomic bomb. His obsessive mission to find the last known Twinkie is a Don Quixote-like quest, with Eisenberg’s Columbus as his unwitting Sancho Panza. Ingenious use of flashbacks to show the characters before the zombie pocalypse provides great little asides, but the movie never loses focus from the main road and not only keeps you laughing with outrageous kills and character moments, but can also be scary at times. And what’s more, the two go together quite naturally and flow seamlessly into each other.

The focus is on the four main characters, which makes for a unique zombie movie experience by not introducing a sprawling cast that makes you wait to see who gets eaten and in what order. But if the comedic skills of proven actors like Harrelson, Eisenberg and Stone aren’t enough for you, there is an extended cameo by Bill Murray in what has to be one of the worst-kept secrets in recent casting.

But I don’t think that foreknowledge diminishes your enjoyment of the scene, and even though it sometimes strains as an advertisement for Ghostbusters (and by proxy, Ghostbusters 3?), it’s still a killer scene, both figuratively and literally. But that’s just one standout scene in a movie that’s pretty much excellent from start to finish.

Final Thoughts

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